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HeadlinesMarch 11, 2020

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National Guard Deployed to Coronavirus “Containment Area” Outside New York City

Mar 11, 2020

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has deployed the National Guard to New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City, ordering a one-mile containment zone around a synagogue whose congregation is at the center of the nation’s single largest coronavirus outbreak. National Guard members were ordered to disinfect schools, to set up a coronavirus testing facility and to deliver food to people on quarantine, including thousands of students forced to remain at home. This is Governor Cuomo speaking Tuesday. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “It is a dramatic action, but it is the largest cluster in the country. And this is literally a matter of life and death. That’s not a overly rhetorical statement.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Bans Public Gatherings of 250+

Mar 11, 2020

In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee ordered a ban on community gatherings of more than 250 people as a nursing home in King County reported two more deaths Tuesday, raising Washington’s death toll to 25. This comes as The New York Times reported that the coronavirus spread undetected in Washington for weeks, after state and federal officials rejected a Seattle infectious disease expert’s pleas to repurpose a flu study to monitor for coronavirus. By the time the researcher unilaterally decided to begin testing, two people had died and scores had become infected.

Classes and Sporting Events Canceled as Coronavirus Spreads Across U.S.

Mar 11, 2020

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker has declared a state of emergency, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases hit 92. Seventy of the cases are linked to a conference held by the biotech firm Biogen in Boston last month.

In Ohio, the campaigns of both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden abandoned plans for competing rallies Tuesday night in Cleveland, after Governor Mike DeWine ordered all major indoor events canceled. In contrast, President Trump announced his next rally for March 19 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — even though his own coronavirus task force encouraged people not to go to large public gatherings.

Across the U.S. about 60 college campuses have canceled in-person classes and asked students to attend online. A number of public schools have closed, affecting tens of thousands of students. The NCAA is preparing to hold some March Madness college basketball games in front of empty sports arenas. Google told all of its 120,000 full-time employees in North America to work from home. Meanwhile, the federal government is developing a plan to have hundreds of thousands of employees telecommute. 

Top U.S. Health Official: Start Taking Coronavirus Seriously

Mar 11, 2020

At the White House, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that private insurance companies would join Medicare and Medicaid in waiving copayments for coronavirus testing. Coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci warned people to take steps to slow the spread of the disease, like social distancing and avoiding handshakes, washing hands and staying home when feeling ill.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: “We would like the country to realize that as a nation, we can’t be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago, that it doesn’t matter if you’re in a state that has no cases or one case, you have to start taking seriously what you can do now, that if and when the infections will come — and they will come, sorry to say, sad to say. They will.”

The number of U.S. coronavirus cases has topped 1,000, with at least 31 deaths. 

Worldwide Coronavirus Cases Top 121,000

Mar 11, 2020

Worldwide there are nearly 121,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the majority of them in China, where over 3,100 people have died.

In Iran, there have been 291 deaths and about 8,000 confirmed cases. Iran’s chief justice on Monday ordered the temporary release of 70,000 prisoners to slow the spread of the virus. The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Iran responded by calling on authorities to release political prisoners still being held, including thousands arrested during a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests last November.

In Europe, cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in every country in the European Union. Hardest hit is Italy, where authorities have placed travel restrictions on the entire population of 60 million people. In Britain, junior health minister Nadine Dorries was diagnosed Tuesday with coronavirus. Her illness has sparked fears in the British Parliament, which she recently visited, and at 10 Downing Street — the prime minister’s residence — where she attended a reception last week. Other high-level European officials have also gone into quarantine, including the president of the European Parliament, the leader of an Italian political party, the culture minister of France and the secretary general of the Vox party in Spain.

Back in the U.S., the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told lawmakers Tuesday that President Trump’s expanded wall on the U.S.-Mexico border would do nothing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as President Trump has claimed. CDC Director Robert Redfield also agreed with a Democratic lawmaker that it was wrong for Republicans to refer to COVID-19 as the “Chinese coronavirus” or “Wuhan virus.” This week, China’s Foreign Ministry condemned the rhetoric as a “despicable” campaign to stigmatize China.

Trump Floats $700 Billion Payroll Tax Cut Decried as Stealth Attack on Social Security 

Mar 11, 2020

President Trump and lawmakers opened talks Tuesday on a massive emergency relief package aimed at blunting the impact of coronavirus on the U.S. economy. Trump floated the idea of a payroll tax cut that would eliminate nearly $700 billion in revenue from Social Security by the end of the year. The proposed payroll tax cut was attacked by economists who noted it would deliver most help to households least in need. And the advocacy group Social Security Works tweeted, “This is a Trojan Horse attack on our Social Security system, which will do nothing to meaningfully address the #Covid19 crisis.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports the White House is strongly considering pushing federal assistance for oil and natural gas producers hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak and an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Joe Biden Wins Four States Including Michigan, Building Primary Lead Over Bernie Sanders

Mar 11, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden scored decisive primary victories Tuesday night in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is leading in Washington state and North Dakota, where votes are still being counted. While Biden is less than halfway to the delegates he would need to secure the Democratic nomination, he declared victory during a speech in Philadelphia. 

Joe Biden: “And I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion. We share a common goal, and together we’ll defeat Donald Trump. We’ll defeat him together.”

Senator Bernie Sanders returned to his home in Vermont Tuesday night and did not make a public statement. Earlier Tuesday, he stressed the differences between his campaign and Biden’s during a campaign stop in Detroit.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Here in Michigan, where trade agreements have been so devastating in the loss of over 100,000 good-paying jobs — Joe Biden voted for NAFTA. He voted for PNTR with China. I helped lead the opposition.”

Exit polls in every state voting Tuesday showed strong support for Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All program — even in Mississippi, where it has the backing of nearly two-thirds of Democratic voters. But speaking on MSNBC on Monday, Joe Biden indicated that if elected president, he would veto Medicare for All legislation should Congress send it to his desk. 

Joe Biden: “I would veto anything that delays providing the security and the certainty of healthcare being available now.”

Less than two weeks after losing his front-runner status, Sanders faces a decision about whether to continue his increasingly uphill fight for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination. South Carolina Congressmember Jim Clyburn, the number three House Democrat who earlier helped lead Biden to victory in South Carolina, told NPR the DNC should “shut this primary down.” 

Rep. James Clyburn: “I think we will be at a point where Joe Biden will be the prohibitive nominee of the party. And I think the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, should then step in, make an assessment and determine whether or not they ought to have any more debates.”

Joe Biden Threatens Detroit Autoworker, Calls Him “Full of Sh**” in Argument over Guns

Mar 11, 2020

On the campaign trail, former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday told a union autoworker in Detroit he was “full of sh**” and threatened to fight him. Biden made the threat during a photo-op at Detroit’s first new auto assembly plant to be built in decades. The exchange began when the autoworker accused Biden of actively trying to end the Second Amendment. After cursing at the man, Biden repeatedly told a female aide to “shush!” before touting his ownership of shotguns and saying he supports the Second Amendment. Biden threatened to slap the man in the face and threatened to take him “outside” for a fight. During the exchange, Biden also mistakenly referred to the AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle as an “AR-14.”

Bernie Sanders Calls Long Lines at Michigan Polling Places an “Outrage”

Mar 11, 2020

There were reports of irregularities at many polling sites during Tuesday’s primaries. In Missouri, some would-be voters in St. Louis County left long lines at dozens of precincts without casting a ballot, after the county’s electronic poll books failed. In Kansas City, Mayor Quinton Lucas was turned away from the polls Tuesday morning and told he wasn’t in the system — even though he’s voted in the same precinct since 2009. Mayor Lucas had just posted a video to social media stressing the importance of voting.

In Michigan, disabled voters reported problems voting in Detroit and Dearborn. And college students in Ann Arbor and East Lansing reported long lines with wait times of up to two hours. In a statement, Senator Bernie Sanders called the voting problems an “outrage,” writing, “At a time when Democrats correctly attack Republicans for voter suppression, it is disappointing to see people standing in long lines for hours today waiting to vote in Michigan and around the country. People should not have to miss a day of work to exercise their right to vote.” We’ll have the latest on the Democratic presidential race after headlines with journalist and activist Naomi Klein and Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Intensifies Crackdown on Royal Family

Mar 11, 2020

In Saudi Arabia, reports have emerged of a new crackdown on senior royal members and top officials, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appears to be renewing efforts to consolidate power in the kingdom. At least four prominent members of the royal family have reportedly been detained.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Moves to Remain in Power Until 2036 

Mar 11, 2020

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has endorsed a plan that would allow him to remain in power until 2036. The legislation was approved by the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the Duma, on Tuesday, but must still be approved by Russia’s Constitutional Court and a public referendum to be held in April. Putin had already proposed constitutional changes that would allow him to remain in power beyond 2024.

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U.N. Rights Chief Says U.S. Sanctions Causing Shortages in Venezuela

Mar 11, 2020

In Venezuela, security forces Tuesday tear-gassed protesters led by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to prevent them from marching on the National Assembly, which is currently under the control of pro-government lawmakers. This is the first protest triggered by Guaidó after he led an international tour hoping to win support for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó is reportedly trying to revive these efforts as the country’s economic crisis continues to worsen.

Meanwhile, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned U.S.-imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s airline and oil industries are decimating social spending and leading to shortages of food and medicine. Bachelet was speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday. 

Michelle Bachelet: “On economic and social rights, I am concerned by the imposition of new economic sanctions, particularly those that affect airlines and the sanctions on the oil industry, and changing the use of government expenditures that are meant to be used for social ends — also, problems with importing food, medication and humanitarian aid.”

Saint Paul, MN Teachers Strike for Mental Health Funding and Multilingual Interpreters

Mar 11, 2020

In Minnesota, thousands of union teachers and other school staff in the city of Saint Paul began a strike Tuesday after contract talks with the city’s school district broke down. The St. Paul Federation of Educators, which represents some 3,600 educators and school staff, are demanding funding for mental health services for students, as well as more multilingual interpreters and special education funding.

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